Blue Zones Project Story
In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed with National Geographic, the National Institute on Aging, and the world’s best longevity researchers to identify pockets around the world where people lived measurably better, longer. In these five areas—dubbed “blue zones”—researchers found that people reach age 100 at a rate 10 times higher than in the United States, and they do so with lower rates of chronic disease.
Blue Zones Project® took the learnings from this Blue Zones® research and started working with communities across North America to transform environments, making healthy choices easier where people live, work, learn, and play. In 2009, Blue Zones, LLC worked in partnership with AARP and the United Health Foundation to apply the Power 9® principles in Albert Lea, Minnesota. It worked. After just one year, participants added nearly 2.9 years to their average lifespan. In addition to increased economic vitality, savings in medical costs and productivity loss, and improved health outcomes in Albert Lea, Freeborn County jumped up 34 places in the Minnesota County Health Rankings. Harvard’s Walter Willett, writing in Newsweek, called the results “stunning.”
Since that pilot program, Blue Zones Project has expanded to more than 70 communities across North America, impacting more than 4.35 million citizens. Our work has produced double-digit drops in obesity, smoking, and body mass index, among other health and well-being improvements.
Discovering the blue zones
It all began with the original five blue zones—Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California. In these regions, people not only regularly live into the triple digits, they thrive. At advanced ages, their bodies are still healthy and their minds are still sharp. Buettner and his team of researchers were eventually able to pinpoint commonalities in things residents of these places do that result in living long, happy lives. The blue zones hold many longevity secrets, and there’s a lot we can learn from the residents of these special places.
Live the Power 9
Researchers found that despite being located in vastly different parts of the world, blue zones residents share nine specific traits that can lead to longer, healthier, happier lives. We call these the Power 9.
Life Radius approach
We focus on the Life Radius®—the 5-mile-radius area where people work, live and play—as we help make healthy choices easier for residents. If you live in an environment that nudges you towards better choices, you’ll do them without thinking.